Foundation of a LLC (GmbH) and PLC (AG) in Switzerland by foreigners

Foreigners are generally not disallowed from founding a company in Switzerland. However, a distinction is made between persons from EU/EFTA-states and citizens of third countries.

Persons from EU/EFTA countries

Citizens of EU/EFTA countries (currently still excluding Romania and Bulgaria) are allowed to make themselves self-employed in Switzerland. According to the free movement of persons agreement, persons who do not have a residence permit (C-permit) are also allowed to found a company—the five-year residence permit (B-permit) is sufficient. To register in Switzerland, the planned business activities have to be declared and proven. Documents to provide this proof can be—among others—the following: commercial register entry, VAT-number, business plan, professional register entry, proof of social insurance as a self-employed person, and books of account. Further information is provided by the cantonal migration offices.

Persons from third countries

Persons from non-EU/EFTA states wishing to be self-employed in Switzerland have to live up to standards of labour law (ANAG-guidelines). Only C-permit holders or people married to such or Swiss citizens have a legal right to be self-employed in Switzerland. All other persons have to request a permission from the respective cantonal administration. Furthermore, these persons have to convince the authorities that the planned company will have a “sustainable positive effect on the Swiss economy.” It is preferable to hand in a fully worked-out business plan. If the request is granted by the cantonal administration, the applicant receives a short-term permit for citizens of third-party states (L-permit).

In general, this permit is limited to twelve months and may only be extended for another twelve months. A new labour law examination is conducted by the administration each time the permit is extended.

LLC (GmbH)

For the LLC it is required that at least one person (who is permitted to sign contracts) represents the company in Switzerland. This person must have his or her domicile in Switzerland. The person can be the CEO or one of the directors of the company. A residence permit for Switzerland is required in any case.


At least one member of the board of directors with permission to sign has to have his or her domicile in Switzerland.

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